I can’t believe that I am preparing for high school already, now that our family is nearing the home stretch and my oldest daughter is completing middle school. Nonetheless, the time is here and it approaches quicker, it seems, than I can watch a year pass by. (And that’s fast.) Just to help us all out (myself included), I’ve decided to dig my heels in and figure out how to begin getting prepared for high school and beyond.
Understand official high school academic vocabulary.
The first thing we should probably do, if you’ve been out of the loop for awhile (meaning, you don’t have any other kids who have recently gone through this stage), is to familiarize yourself with high school vocabulary. What I mean by this is, familiarize yourself with terms that are important for getting your student through his high school career.
For example, you’ll want to know and be familiar with terms like: AP course, honors course, elective, credit, GPA, SAT, ACT, transcript.
Read books about these topics, attend seminars, and scout other homeschool parents who have trekked the journey before you. Listen to experts on the subject of homeschooling high school, like Lee Binz, The Homescholar (check out my interview with her). The more familiar you become with high school lingo, the more comfortable you’ll feel when thinking about high school in general.
Get caught up.
If your student is behind in any subjects (math, reading, writing, etc.), now’s the time to get them caught up. Really dig in and help with these subjects. Grab experts (family or friends who know the content well), or hire a tutor. But get your kids the help they need. I know that’s a given, being the great parent you are, but sometimes we just need the reminder (or a boost) to get help when we need it.
Decide on the type of homeschool education you wish to pursue in high school.
There are so many different ways to homeschool your student. High school is an excellent time to begin a new path that will help your student shine his best. The important thing is for parents to get help!
For many, online charter schools , virtual schools, and faith-based online schools are a viable option for high school. It takes the pressure off the parents to gather high school required courses and scout teachers and tutors for their student. Other options include co-ops, hybrid homeschooling, and traditional homeschooling. Dual enrollment in a local college is also another option to consider.
With either of these choices, you should understand how you will receive transcripts, graduation requirements, and the types of colleges graduates of these schooling options typically end up at (if interested). You may also have to learn to write up your own transcript. Lee Binz can help with that.
Start learning about careers, vocations, or college interests (in middle school!)
My daughter is starting 9th grade in the fall, and although we understand her gifts and talents we’re not certain how she’ll go about selecting her college major. She is planning to use this next year to do a bit of research on possible fields of study and get familiar with her possibilities.
For this, we are using books like the Book of Majors by College Board. This book is a complete list of majors and explains what they are in detail and where they can be studied.
Again, it’s about becoming familiar with what to expect in high school and beyond. Once our students have an inkling of what they may want to study in college or which career path they’re interested in taking after high school, it becomes easier to navigate their high school years before they begin. It just gives parents a bit of advance time to plan and prep.
For example, if you know your student wants to become a vet, now you have a better idea of how to approach the high school years. Is there a specific exam your child needs to take? What kinds of colleges would you need to look into to satisfy degrees and certifications? How can you better prepare now (in middle school) in planning for the types of courses your student should take in high school to assist in that career path?
It’s not difficult…it’s just tricky at times. It’s all about finding resources that will help you make the best decisions possible for your family.
Begin deciding on tests (ACT/SAT).
We have already decided that test prep should be an integral part of our homeschool. Test scores are used by colleges to determine entrance, and the higher the scores, the better your student’s chance at receiving scholarship money.
I recently attended a seminar in which the host discussed the differences between the ACT and SAT. It seems that the SAT has been revamped recently to reflect a bit more clarity in its structure…and surprisingly is more similar to the ACT now. The ACT structure is remaining mostly the same, but as of March 2016 the SAT has undergone a major overhaul. This means that SAT prep test books will be outdated and you’ll need to get the newest prep materials after March in order to have the accurate study guides.
The ACT is also undergoing some minor changes. If you want a complete breakdown of what each test is like, then visit the PrepScholar blog and read up on it in detail. It’s good information to have when selecting tests. Another great resources is The College Solution’s article on why it might be a better idea to stick with the ACT for now until the newly revamped SAT has ironed out all the kinks.
I talk about test-taking and test-prep in middle school because it’s important to get a head start. I feel that waiting until the last minute (11th and 12th grade) is not the best idea. The more familiar your student feels with test-taking, the more relaxed she becomes when it’s time for the big day and the 4-hour test.
Education yourself, then relax!
The best thing we can do as parents of middle school homeschoolers, is to become as knowledgeable about the high school years as possible. Educate yourself about your state laws and options. From there, ask around and get opinions from parents who have “been there done that”. Find help through homeschool coaches like Lee Binz who specializes in helping parents navigate homeschooling through the high school years. (She offers 5 minutes for free. After that join her Gold Care Club and she can navigate you through your high school planning.)
Lastly, relax. Your child understands that growing up is a huge deal, and is challenging. If you are relaxed, he will be more relaxed. Don’t stress over these decisions. Pray over them and allow God to lead you and direct your steps. Try not to show your anxiety much around your students and lead by example. If you want them to relax through their middle and high school years, then mom, you have to take a deep breath, realize that you can do this, and relax too.
Do you have a student in middle school? How have you been preparing for the high school years ahead? Leave me a comment.